WBD Solitude


Rain over the past three weeks has made many of our local creeks unfishable.  Because the West Branch of the Delaware is a tailwater, it’s less susceptible to discoloration.  After monitoring the weather forecast and the water level, I decided to commit and make an overnight trip to the WBD.  I’m glad that I did!   Driving down on Monday, I was concerned that the morning rain would muck up the system.  On more than one occasion, I’ve driven three hours and arrived to find it the color of chocolate milk.  IMG_0399When I arrived, the water level had dropped to 1,000 cfs and the visibility was several feet.  Even better, after checking in at the West Branch Angler Resort, I noticed rising fish out front of the lodge.  There were a few sulphers on the water (size #16 and #18) and the odd baetis (size # 20).  I managed to break the skunk on a small brown (size #20 olive antron emerger) and then decided to relocate upriver.

IMG_4024From 4 pm to 8 pm I enjoyed a steady diet of rising fish.  There were waves of sulphers hatching and I had a pod of happy, rising fish.  Due to the higher water, it was easy to get close to them.  My best was a measured 21″ brown that I sight fished in about a foot and a half of water.  It was a real treat.  Ironically, of the half a dozen trout that I landed, it was the only one that gobbled a sulpher pattern (cdc emerger #18).  All my other fish ate olive patterns.  Heavy fog started to roll in and the last hour or so things slowed down.  That’s fine, as I was perfectly content with 4 solid hours of dry fly-sight fishing.  They weren’t easy, demanded a number of fly changes and I used a 17′ leader w/ 6.5 Trout Hunter tippet.  Those fish sure fought well in that current!

IMG_0395It rained overnight and Tuesday’s forecast called for extensive rain.  This time, I moved downriver and packed two rods (#5 weight and #7 weight).  While I hoped for dry fly fishing, it wasn’t to be.  The rain started before breakfast and rarely let up.  It misted, drizzled, steadily poured, gushed down in waves and repeated each stage of rain, in no particular order.  My guess is that it must have easily rained an inch plus.  The insects never stood a chance.  So, I stashed my #5 weight around a patch of wild rasberries and snacked, while I contemplated my next move.  It was time to chuck some meat and see who was home.  So, I affixed a 9′ stretch of T-14 (sink tip) to my #7 weight and made the decision to throw articulated streamers.  Imagine my surprise when a 16″ brownie engulfed my olive sculpin pattern on the first cast.  That’s the way to start!  Before the West Branch rose and turned into a creamy coffee color, I enjoyed a few more browns on streamers.  They sure whack it and there’s nothing subtle about the take.  Ironically, most today’s streamer fish were smaller than my yesterday’s dry fly caught fish.

IMG_0407Even though it was partially sunny the first afternoon and raining the second day, I enjoyed large stretches of water to myself.  In fact, during my streamer fishing this morning, I never saw another angler, nor a drift boat.  Weekday pressure on the WBD late June and July receive less pressure.  That’s even more true on a soggy day.  Sure, my gear is soaked and things are drying out. Nonetheless, it’s a small price to pay for quality fishing and angling solitude.


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Craig Dennison

This is Craig and I host Fly Fisher's Workshop. My fly fishing experiences include plenty of travel (Montana/Florida/North Carolina/Maine) and a few years part time guiding for trout. While I primarily target trout and steelhead, I still manage to chase warm water species and enjoy chasing stripers and bluefish. I'm a 3rd generation fly fisher trying to share the passion with my two sons!

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